Next Generation of Renewable Electricity Policy: How Rapid Change is Breaking Down Conventional Policy Categories

Victoria Healey, Toby Couture, David Jacobs, Wilson Rickerson

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


A number of policies have been used historically in order to stimulate the growth of the renewable electricity sector. This paper examines four of these policy instruments: competitive tendering, sometimes called renewable electricity auctions, feed-in tariffs, net metering and net billing, and tradable renewable energy certificates. In recent years, however, a number of changes to both marketcircumstances and to policy priorities have resulted in numerous policy innovations, including the emergence of policy hybrids. With no common language for these evolving policy mechanisms, policymakers have generally continued to use the same traditional policy labels, occasionally generating confusion as many of these new policies no longer look, or act, like their traditional predecessors. Inreviewing these changes, this paper makes two separate but related claims: first, policy labels themselves are breaking down and evolving. As a result, policy comparisons that rely on the conventional labels may no longer be appropriate, or advisable. Second, as policymakers continue to adapt, we are in effect witnessing the emergence of the next generation of renewable electricity policies, achange that could have significant impacts on investment, as well as on market growth in both developed and developing countries.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages36
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-7A40-63149


  • auctions
  • competitive tendering
  • feed-in tariffs
  • FIT
  • FIT
  • net billing
  • net metering
  • policies
  • policy comparisons
  • policy instruments
  • policy labels
  • renewable electricity
  • tradable renewable energy certificates


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